Whether it’s Donald Trump, who calls women he doesn’t like “fat pigs”, “slobs”, and “disgusting animals”, or the French former deputy speaker Denis Baupin, who resigned last month after being accused by a group of female co-workers of sexual harassment at work, sexism in politics has not been left in the past.
Although more women now run global businesses and lead ministries, men try even harder to push them away from these ranks through harassment, insults and humiliation with the use of a primitive, yet violent weapon: sexism. Fearing harsher competition as a result of women’s professional involvement, more and more politicians attempt to point out to women “their place”. According to the patriarchy, this is the kitchen. And their mission? Giving birth and taking care of children
While some likeTrump just shout out their sexist sentiments to create media buzz, others start to inject their anti-women views into society and make it one of the core ideas of their policy, attempting to give the patriarchy a second life.
On Sunday 5 June, during the inauguration of the new headquarters of Turkey’s Women’s and Democracy Association, the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that childless women and those who do not take care of their family homes are “incomplete and deficient”.
This was only the latest from the series of attacks on women led by Erdogan and his fellow politicians from the AKP, who earlier declared that politics is not a woman’s issue and that “real women” do not laugh out loud in public. In 2014, Erdogan said men and women are not equal and cannot perform the same duties as women are more delicate. Erdogan’s daughter Sumeyye echoed his beliefs last year when she stated women should be reserved a lesser share of inheritance because it is the men who bring bread to the table.
As the whole planet observes how the dictator is rising with a strong will to dominate the world, women, traditionally, are the first ones being targeted and the first ones to suffer from oppression. In the best of patriarchal traditions, which feed and are the base for all the existing dictatorships, Erdogan begins by limiting the role of women in society. Back in April 1935 at the women’s congress in Istanbul, the nation’s leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk told Turkish women: “I am convinced that the exercise of social and political rights by women is necessary for mankind’s happiness and pride.” Today they hear from their president how deficient they are.
While some 80 years ago Ataturk announced to the Turkish women their big mission by declaring: “You can rest assured that Turkish women together with the world’s women will work towards world peace and security”, today, Erdogan works hard to reduce women’s importance in the world.
“A woman who rejects motherhood, who refrains from being around the house, however successful her working life is, is incomplete” said Erdogan on 5 June. Through this statement, Erdogan reveals his actual patriarchal obsession to force Turkish women to give birth in order to make the nation he seeks to fully control, bigger and more powerful. Moreover, he stated in his official presidential recommendation that women should have “at least three children”. This attempt to limit women into being birth-giving machines has been prominent throughout history, and once again proves that patriarchy feeds dictatorship and vice versa; they cannot exist without one another.
When Erdogan accuses women who reject motherhood of ‘giving up on humanity’, our response is to shout out back that what we give up on is dictatorial patriarchies that see women as sex objects.
Erdogan has a very strong oppressive arsenal in his hands, and also actively uses the most successful instrument of all time to oppress women and to maintain fear among his population: religion. Erdogan’s proposition to adopt a religious constitution and transform secular Turkey into a new Islamic state did not get a lot of support, at least yet, even within his fellow politicians.
He has attempted to define what makes a good Muslim man and woman by warning against birth control: “People talk about birth control, about family planning. No Muslim family can understand and accept that. As God and as the great prophet said, we will go this way. And in this respect the first duty belongs to mothers.”
For Erdogan, a woman is above all a mother. This conviction is also likely fed by the fact that some Kurdish female fighters refuse to give birth in order to continue their fight, the fight which Erdogan fears so much.
Despite the latest economic and social contributions of working Turkish women, their role and rights are about to be replaced by some medieval dusty patriarchal rules which endanger not only them but society as a whole.
Women are the main driving revolutionary force in any society, and therefore they are the first to be oppressed.
Nations can be judged by the way women are treated, and Erdogan’s Turkey is about to fail this test. It is also well-known that women are the main driving revolutionary force in any society, and therefore they are the first to be oppressed.
While the Turkish Taksim and Gezi spirit is still in the air, the nation has to prepare for a new revolution against this new dictator, Turkish women have to get ready for a “two-fronts revolution”. As it has been for centuries, women have to stage “a double revolution”, while fighting alongside men for general political changes in their country, at the same time, they have to fight for the liberation of women, which is probably of all social fights, the longest one.
When Erdogan accuses women who reject motherhood of “giving up on humanity”, our response is to shout out back that what we give up on is dictatorial patriarchies that see women as sex objects and are obsessed with controlling our bodies.
Women stood up, they evolved and liberated themselves, and they are ready to once again oppose the destruction and obscurantism brought by sexist dictators like Erdogan.
Let the riot begin. Power to the free Turkish women!